UAB Magazine Weekly - Features on Campus Life
Meet Students, Faculty Featured in New UAB PromosBy Matt Windsor
What do you want to be? What do you want to change today? That’s the call to action delivered by UAB faculty and students in two new 30-second advertisements focused on student recruitment (click here to watch) and philanthropic support for the university (above). The ads mark the second phase in the university’s branding campaign, “Knowledge that will change your world,” and the launch of The Campaign for UAB: Give Something, Change Everything, the university's largest-ever fundraising campaign.
Once the cameras finished rolling, UAB Magazine talked with several participants in the new commercials to learn the stories behind their star turns. (Read how music student Kevin Peek wrote the music for these commercials in this related story.)
Olaf Kutsch, Ph.D.
Co-Director, UAB Center for AIDS Research
Many scientists struggle to explain their work in layman’s terms. Olaf Kutsch can accomplish the task in three words: cure HIV-1 infection. “We are trying to identify means to eradicate the virus from infected patients,” Kutsch says.
Antiretroviral medicines block the production of HIV-1 in the body, but reservoirs of the virus live on in immune cells known as memory T cells. To create a cure, scientists must find a signal that can reactivate these dormant viruses and then destroy the infected cells. Kutsch’s laboratory is trying to discover drugs that may be able to provide that signal.
“The most exciting part of my research program is that it gives me the possibility—hopefully one day in the near future—to make a difference for many people," Kutsch says. "Finding a cure for HIV-1 infection would end the hardship for many affected individuals and families.”
Read more about Kutsch's research in this UAB Magazine feature.
Music Student Supplies Soundtracks for New UAB TV CommercialsBy Matt Windsor
You won’t see Kevin Peek in UAB’s new student recruitment ad (above), but the senior music technology major plays a prominent role. Peek’s rippling, piano-driven score propels the fast-moving commercial, which launched the second phase in the university’s new brand campaign, “Knowledge that will change your world.” (Learn more about the faces behind these commercials in this related story.)
Peek is no stranger to high-profile gigs. In 2012, he won a national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival sound design award for the 20 original songs he wrote for UAB Theatre’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and he has composed music for a host of films produced for UAB Digital Media. So the 30 seconds of music required for the new TV commercial was no big deal—which was a good thing, because he didn’t have much time to work with.
Learn more about Digital Media fellowships and internships.)Following recommendations from Scott L. Phillips, Ph.D., co-director of UAB’s music technology program, and Rosie O’Beirne, director of Digital Media and Learning, Peek was commissioned by BLR Further, the advertising agency producing UAB’s new commercials. Because the project was part of his UAB Digital Media Fellowship, he earned course credit as well. (
“Deadlines were pretty tight,” Peek says. He wrote a first draft in five days, but it “didn’t end up working when the editing process began,” so Peek went back to the piano, creating a new piece in “about 24 hours,” he says. (His original piece wasn’t wasted however; it forms the soundtrack for a new commercial for the recently launched Campaign for UAB.)
Meet UAB's Class of 2017
By Matt Windsor
The fall semester always brings fresh faces to campus, but this year's UAB freshman class was one for the record books. There are 1,773 students in the Class of 2017, a 5.8 percent increase over 2012 and an all-time high for the university. The boom in baby Blazers has also pushed on-campus housing to capacity, with 69.1 percent of freshmen now living on campus—another record total. Digging into the demographics reveals increases among in-state students, out-of-state students, and international students.
There was also a gain in students from Jefferson County, due in part to a new partnership between UAB and Birmingham City Schools that encouraged students such as Angela Roper, a freshman with an interest in nursing, to stay in their hometown for higher education.
"I researched the nursing program and loved the atmosphere when I visited UAB Hospital," Roper says. She also gives high marks to the Blazing Start program, part of the UAB-Birmingham City Schools partnership, which includes dedicated advising and mentoring for incoming freshmen. "It's a great program to be part of if success is a part of your future," she says.
Roper and the rest of the Class of 2017 will see plenty of changes to campus during the next four years, including a new student center, residence hall, and health and wellness facility. But this group is looking to make some changes of its own—on campus, in Birmingham, and around the world. Meet a few of the new faces:
"A More Convenient Season" Shares Birmingham's Story
By Matt Windsor
Alys Stephens Center (ASC) in the world premiere of composer Yotam Haber's "A More Convenient Season."On September 21, Birmingham's past will engage its present in a unique conversation. For 75 minutes, the words of civil rights legends and footsoldiers, FBI agents and Klansmen, will echo through UAB's
The three-movement musical work, commissioned by philanthropist Tom Blount and produced by the ASC, caps Birmingham's commemoration of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in September 1963.
Speeches, oral history transcripts, and FBI interviews supply the text of a multi-faceted work that combines the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, a chorus from dozens of local choirs, electronic music, and a documentary film. (The work's title comes from a line in Martin Luther King's famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail.") The ambitious project might best be described as an opera, says Haber. "There are no sets or costumes, but in every other respect, this is an opera."
"A More Convenient Season," Saturday, September 21 - 8 p.m.
Jemison Concert Hall, Alys Stephens Center
Book online or call (205) 975-2787.
Tickets: $10 with promo code "positivepeace"
"A More Convenient Season" is the first world premiere in the ASC's 17-year history—a dramatic gesture that is "UAB's gift to Birmingham," says Theresa Bruno, chair of the ASC's corporate board. For Haber, a project that began as a 15-minute string quartet has been his constant companion for two years, evolving into what he says is "the most meaningful work I have ever made."
Essix Celebrates Birmingham’s Beauty and ProgressBy Grant Martin
Fifty years ago, Eric Essix saw the worst of Birmingham. As a young child living in the city’s Fountain Heights neighborhood, Essix grew up near the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement.
What: Eric Essix performing with Five Men On a Stool and Tracy Hamlin
“I had a great childhood and a great time growing up here,” says Essix, a renowned jazz guitarist—and member of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame—who has served as the artist coordinator for UAB’s Alys Stephens Center (ASC) since 2010. “I experienced some of the segregation and discrimination, but I saw it all through the eyes of a young child. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I could look back and appreciate the changes that had taken place and the gravity of what had happened here.”
On Thursday, September 19, Essix will perform selections from his latest CD, Evolution, at the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall at a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. Essix says he sees the event as a celebration of progress. “When I began recording Evolution, I was inspired by feelings of healing and hope,” he says. “My goal for the album and for this event is to inspire other people to look at what we’ve done and the progress we’ve made in 50 years—to make them want to do even more to unify our community.”